ARDMORE, Okla. -- A Carter County jury handed down the sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole to convicted murderer James Eric Parker on Wednesday.
It took a jury of seven men and five women just three and a half hours to decide that James Eric Parker should go to prison for the rest of his life with no possibility of parole.
The decision came down about 5:20 Wednesday evening, and the reaction inside the courtroom was quiet. Before the sentence was read, Associate District Judge Lee Card admonished onlookers in the court that no outbursts would be tolerated. There was however a visible sigh of relief from the Parker Family sitting in the front row. Earlier in the afternoon we spoke with Parker's daughter, Nikki.
"It’s just real hard for all of us right now... That's really all I can say right now."
Parker, convicted of the 2006 murder of Danny Watterson, had no visible reaction as he left the courtroom in handcuffs after the sentence was read.
Carter County District Attorney Craig Ladd pushed for the death penalty throughout the trial, and the day before called Watterson's family members to the stand. They also asked the jury to impose the most severe of punishments. Ladd said he believed justice had been served.
"I think he's going to get life without parole plus 20 plus 10, so life without parole plus thirty. You know that's satisfactory and I certainly appreciate the jury's service -- it's a very difficult case to sit on, and all death penalty cases are. I just hope it brings closure to the Watterson family," Ladd said.
Parker received an additional thirty years in state prison on kidnapping and burglary charges.
On Tuesday, the same jury of seven men and five women handed down a guilty verdict on first degree murder, burglary, and kidnapping charges.
Both the Parker and Watterson families were on hand for the trial. The only visible reactions in the courtroom were sighs of relief from the Parker family. This has clearly been a difficult ordeal for both families involved. The Wattersons had no comment on Wednesday’s sentencing.